Learn / Compost / Troubleshooting / Answers

Answers to composting hiccups

A wet and smelly compost pile means waste has become too compacted leading to a lack of oxygen and smelly gases being released. What you need is more dry matter and air gaps.

  • Layer kitchen waste with adequate amount of Remix powder to avoid compaction.
  • When dealing with an already smelly pile, stir Remix Powder into the contents (you can take out batches into a bucket and do this). This will absorb the extra moisture and loosen up the material. You will notice the stink disappear.

Note: The dried leaves in the bottom of Daily Dump Stack composters help absorb the extra water (leachate) that is released during composting. Sometimes the bed of leaves is not thick enough so leachate will collect and there will be smell from the bottom unit and not in the top. Add Remix powder and stir the bottom unit if this is the case.

Call us for a Reassurance Visit (Bangalore only) if you would like us to deal with it.

Compacted waste

Extremely compacted waste

The Black Soldier Fly Maggots are prolific creatures that appear in all compost heaps - they are nature's scavengers and good for composting. They love a very wet pile. We understand that they take some getting used to and they could leave you feeling repulsed when there are too many - the trick is to manage them. Lots of stirring (air) and adding Remix powder (dry component) will reduce their numbers.

  • Add Remix Powder to absorb the extra moisture with 2 tablespoons of turmeric / neem powder and stir. As best practice, add neem powder and stir every time a unit is full.
  • Add microbes to the pile, this will speed up decomposition and increase the temperature of the pile. Since maggots die above 40 degrees centigrade, this can control their population to an extent.

If it's too much and you want to avoid them coming out and crawling on your floor, you can put your composter in a plastic tub with high sides. They usually cannot crawl out of that slippery vertical surface. If they crawl out and wander all over, then sweep them up, collect them in a container and drop them under a tree - birds love them!

Remember that these BSF maggots suppress the lifecycle of the pest carrying housefly. The Soldier flies have no mouth and cannot transmit pathogens, so they are harmless. Appreciate them. They are even a fried delicacy in some cultures as they are very rich in protein!

If the problem is unbearable, we will come for a Reassurance Visit (Bengaluru only) and help you sort it out. Whatever you do, try not to stop composting because you fear these harmless creatures. Live and let live!

Know more about this wonderful creature below.

These can be a real nuisance but they are not a health hazard. We have three tried methods of controlling them:

  • Cover fresh waste with enough Remix Powder and a sheet of paper. The paper is an effective way of keeping fruit flies in check. Basically, there should be no waste visible for the flies to sit on.
  • Use a liberal dose of Lemon grass spray on the composter and pile. You can make this using lemon grass essential oil, diluted in water. Also you can burn a "diya" with lemon grass essential oil near the Kambha.
  • Use the electric mosquito bat to swat the flies every 2 days.

Here are some DIY methods ...

  • Make a flruit fly trap and place it near the Kambha (Download instructions)
  • Put 1/4 cup white vinegar and a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap in a cup and add water until the bubbles reach the top of the cup. Leave it on the counter and the fruit flies are attracted to it and
  • Take 1/2 litre milk + 450 gms jaggery + 50 gms ground pepper and combine in a saucepan & simmer for 8-10 minutes. Pour the mixture into shallow dishes. Flies will attack it greedily and soon suffocate. This recipe has been handed down in New England since 1850.

You are generating more waste than your composter can handle

OR

Composting is too slow as the conditions are not right.

  • You may need to invest in another composter or a Leave-it Pot for maturation and storage. You could use a terracotta flower pot for this, but try not to use plastic.
  • Make sure the pile is moist (not dry) for optimum composting. Add some microbes in water to speed it up.

Hmm… your pile has a composition that attracts ants. Not all piles attract ants as it depends on your diet and the ambient conditions.

Some solutions -

  • Use vinegar around the pot and on the outside surface liberally.
  • Apparently baby powder sprinkled around the base of the product also helps.
  • Some people say that Cinnamon powder is the best.
  • You could also try Borax powder from a medical store which works really well. Put it around where they are getting in.
  • Try turmeric powder also - sprinkle around the base and inside the pot

Rain getting in can create a very smelly pile.

Relocate your composter to a more sheltered spot. If you cannot, keep the rain out with our Elegant Raincoat.

While our composters have not been designed to withstand heavy rainfall, a little rain going in doesn’t adversely affect composting. Add Remix Powder to absorb any extra moisture and prevent a stinking pile.

So, you hate lizards, eh? Well, some composters attract lizards and spiders.

Scared? Then tap the composter with a stick before you open it. They usually scamper away. You could spray some lemon grass on the pile and vinegar on the outer surface.

Finally get over your fear of both lizards and spiders - they are important for the eco-system, they won't harm you and they only want to make friends :)

Decomposition will stop if there is not enough oxygen, nitrogen or moisture. The nitrogen comes from food scraps and half done compost. Moisture comes from the waste too but leaving the pile too dry (due to fear of smell or of maggots) will stop decomposition altogether. The micro-organisms need moisture to live on and decompose kitchen waste.

For optimum decomposition:

  • Stir the pile to get the oxygen circulating again.
  • Sprinkle water and stir well to homogenise the pile to get the microorganisms working again.
    Add in some accelerator to speed up the process
  • Make sure that the pile is moist - not soggy, but moist.
  • Ensure you have enough nitrogen rich sources like food scraps, manure or untreated grass clippings.

Yes, the terracotta modular units can be pushed over by dogs, monkeys or a careless gesture.

If its only a crack - repair it with some M-seal. Otherwise you can replace only a single unit - it’s easy with our modular composters.

You can pick up your replacement parts or have it delivered to you. We still choose to work with terracotta as we have found it to be the best material for composting - and it supports craftspeople and livelihoods!

Rat problem? Well, decomposition smells do attract all creatures - that is natures' way of recycling.

Don't worry because the Daily Dump products are rodent-proof – they don't allow rodents to enter unlike compost pits.

Rats can sometimes dig around the base of the composter and topple it over. In that case do place the composter on a cemented or stone surface.

I Have Too much compost!

If you generate more compost than you need, check out our 'Fun ways to use compost' for some whacky ideas. Remember - even throwing it out is good for the soil!

When do we buy back compost?

  • If you accept the rates that Daily Dump quotes after examining your compost (maximum = Rs 5 per kg)
  • If you made the compost in a Daily Dump product (and have photographic proof!)
  • If you have more than 10 kgs of compost and are willing to drop it off at our headquarters in Bengaluru and pick up the money.
  • If you have over 100 kgs and are willing to pay us for the transportation to have it picked up from your premises.

The ideal picture of done compost is a bowl of dark powder that looks like tea leaves. Well, if your done compost does not look like that all you need to do is sieve it.

Some gardeners put piles that have large pieces directly into beds.

Do decide what works for you. Sieve to get the tea powder consistency.

my pot looks white & flaky

Terracotta allows transpiration, so as you use your composter the evaporation deposits salts on the outside. Take tamarind paste and scrub the outsides down with thepaste and water. Then wipe clean. the terracotta looks as good as new! You could polish with a little bit of coconut oil.

Don't worry. Just order online and the courier will bring the packet to your door. We have a 1 to 6 month delivery plan if you would like this regularly. Till it comes, use some crushed, dried leaves and mix in well with your kitchen waste everyday.

The 'recurring cost of Remix Powder' is sometimes seen as expensive. We sell it as a fool-proof way of getting composting right. You could mix Remix Powder with half done or done compost and use it - this will reduce costs and speed up composting. Only using half done compost instead of Remix Powder will not work (it will become wet and smelly) - you need at least half and half proportion for optimum composting.

Some customers like experimenting with different sources of carbon like dried leaves or sawdust. Please note you have to add enough volume of this material and STIR OFTEN. You will have to also add enough accelerators. If you want to try the different alternatives, please do, but remember that Remix powder is an 'all in one' mix that makes composting easy and convenient when you have time constraints.

White fungus in the compost pile? Great! This is one of the first signs that you are doing everything right and decomposition is optimum.

Keep going and you will soon have some excellent compost.

Learn the secrets of fungi in this wonderful article.

  • Remix powder makes most hiccups go away. Try it, for fool proof composting

Learn / Compost / Troubleshooting / BSF Maggot

The Black Soldier Fly Maggot

Most people freak out when they see the first maggots in their compost pile. They are harmless and good for composting. So what can you do, you ask? Well, make friends, manage them & learn the fun facts about these lovable grubs!

The Black Soldier Fly maggots begin small & white and then become very dark brown.

  • Ewww! I hate maggots! How do other people deal with them?

Learn / Compost / Troubleshooting / Amazing BSF

What's so amazing about maggots?

1. Manages all kinds of waste

Soldier fly larvae are scavengers and thrive on many kinds of decaying organic matter, including carrion, manure and plant refuse. They are able to convert all this into compost easily.

2. Useful as Feed

Black soldier fly larvae are one of the most efficient protein converters in insects, containing up to 42% of protein & a lot of calcium and amino acids. The larvae can be fed right back to the animals or birds that generated the waste or used as feed for fish or livestock - closing the loop of waste to food.

3. Improves quality of compost

The larvae have the potential of improving organic waste into a rich fertilizer since they are a good source of oil and protein. Their nitrogen rich casts add their nutrition to the done compost.

4. Faster than worms

On average a household will produce around 1kg of food waste per day. This food waste can be composted at home using black soldier fly larvae much much faster than worms can do it. The larvae colony breaks down kitchen waste, churns it and creates heat, increasing compost evaporation. Significant amounts are also converted to carbon dioxide respired by the grubs and symbiotic/mutualistic microorganisms.

5. Controls harmful fly populations

Actively feeding BSF grubs secrete a natural fly repellent called a synomone (an interspecies, chemical communication that alerts and warns other kinds of flies to stay away). This actually helps reduce housefly numbers by at least 95% by denying the flies access to food.

  • You probably eat maggots everyday! Don't believe us?

Learn / Compost / Troubleshooting / BSF Lifecycle

Lifecycle of a Black Soldier Fly Maggot

Adult Fly: The adult fly, which measures about 16 mm, has a lifespan of 5 to 8 days. The adult soldier fly has no functioning mouthparts; it spends its time searching for mates and reproducing. Soldier fly adults do not go into houses or eating places. They do not bite or sting and they are not associated in any way with the transmission of disease as they have no hair on their legs.

After larvae have developed through six instars (period of growth), they enter a stage called ‘prepupae’ where they stop eating. They empty their gut (called self cleansing) & their mouthparts change to an appendage that aids climbing. This is when they crawl out seeking a dry, sheltered area to pupate.

Pupae: The pupa develops inside the puparium (the larval skin) and the is about one-third the length of the puparium. It’s body undergoes a transformation from pupa to adult fly and it does not feed during this stage. It takes approximately 10 days for the adult fly to emerge.

Maggot / Grub / Larvae: The creepy looking maggot (grub) begins very small and white in colour, as it grows it becomes brown with distinct segments on the body. The larva is plump, slightly flattened, with a tiny, yellowish to black head. The skin is tough and leathery.

After larvae have developed through six instars (period of growth), they enter a stage called 'prepupae' where they stop eating. They empty their gut (called self cleansing) & their mouthparts change to an appendage that aids climbing. This is when they crawl out seeking a dry, sheltered area to pupate.